3 Lessons Learned After Week 7

Chris Allen reviews three noteworthy performances coming out of Week 7 and provides some advice for fantasy managers on how to approach their situations going forward.

Week 7 featured four quarterbacks, two running backs, and two wide receivers going over 30 points on the week. We liked the matchups for each player and most of us are happy with the results. But we couldn’t project them. This week, and every following week, should enforce the idea of a range of outcomes or what can reasonably happen within a game. It helps us identify some of the top scorers of the week, but it can also keep us from starting a player in a negative game environment. I found some of the players that wound up on the negative side of their range in Week 7 and what their outlook is for the weeks ahead.

Quarterback: Matthew Stafford, Lions

Week 7 Results: 22.5 (Projected), 18.4 (Actual)

Stafford’s QB15 finish in Week 7 wasn’t a complete disappointment. But we wanted more. The Falcons had allowed a QB8 performance from Kirk Cousins the week prior and Teddy Bridgewater finished as the QB12 in Week 5. The Lions’ offense with D’Andre Swift being used in the passing game was set to shine. And yet, the team could only muster 23 points in their comedic comeback against Atlanta. We expected an aggressive, downfield passing attack, but Stafford’s results aren’t matching the team’s passing tendencies (12th in neutral passing rate over their last three games). With so many fantasy-relevant assets tied to Detroit’s offense, I took a closer look at what’s ailing Stafford and if we can value him as a possible QB1 as we head towards the fantasy playoffs.

Advice Moving Forward:

Stafford is a QB2 moving forward and streaming options should be considered, but he has more positive matchups in their upcoming schedule. The main problem is his lack of touchdowns. Stafford is yet to throw for less than 200 yards, but he’s been unlucky in the red zone. He was knocked down in the red zone during the first quarter of Week 7 that forced a penalty moving the Lions to the 3-yard line setting up D'Andre Swift for a short touchdown. A defensive pass interference call gave Adrian Peterson a 1-yard touchdown in Week 6. T.J. Hockenson fell at the 4-yard line in the same game giving Swift another short-yardage score. The abundance of rushing touchdowns has capped Stafford’s upside as he’s cracked the Top 12 just once this season. But his 2019 production, albeit for half a season, hints at positive regression for Stafford in the touchdown area. His touchdown rate through eight games last season was 6.5% whereas his current touchdown rate is 4.9%. The gap isn’t immense, but it emphasizes the few plays it takes to keep him at QB23 on the season. However, his 54.2% passing rate in the red zone (league average 52.1%) should provide the opportunity to convert more throwing touchdowns than passing in his future games. In addition, the Lions play Minnesota, Washington, and Carolina over their next month of games. Each team has allowed at least one QB1 performance over their last three games with Minnesota allowing two in Weeks 5 and 6. Streaming options should be considered for Week 8, but Stafford should be in the optimal game environments to produce in future weeks.

Running Back: Joshua Kelley, Chargers

Week 7 Results: 12.1 (Projected), (Actual) 10.3

The running back touches have bounced between Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson in Austin Ekeler’s absence. Kelley’s early-season performance indicated he was set to lead the Chargers’ backfield, but Jackson had other plans. He had the majority of the snaps and touches in Week 5, but the roles have reversed as the team comes out of their schedule bye. While the two running backs had similar scores, I looked at the rookie running back and his workload to see if there’s more to the story than the dreaded running back by committee.

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